Last week I was facilitating a webinar on my favourite topic – Learning and I was excited. I had my slides done well in advance, the week before. On the day of the webinar I woke up early and reviewed the content. I set up and did a technical test and everything was great. I was back in my seat 15 mins before the start time, had my holding slide up and was reading my notes a final time … and then 2 mins before the webinar was due to start – the entire system went down. It logged me out with a one-liner – “This session has ended”

With 2 minutes to go I acted quickly to get myself up and running again, and congratulated myself on managing to get the webinar started as scheduled. But my celebration was premature because the system shut down again. And then again. And then again. I lost count. It was three or four times in a one hour webinar. And after the first time I discovered it was only happening to me. All the attendees were staying connected and online – and I was the only one getting booted out of the system. I did everything I could think of – I changed my network connection (yes I have backup WIFI), I closed all other programs, I rebooted the program. I still kept getting logged out.

I’m not even going to sugarcoat it. My stress levels were through the roof. I was flustered, aghast and upset, losing my cool, freaking out, wanting to yell. Now when I think about it I don’t know how long I was offline for each time. I just know how it felt – like an eternity, growing longer and longer each time. My entire focus was on getting back online as fast as possible each time to minimise the disruption for the learners. But I also wanted to give the delegates as positive an experience as possible under the circumstances by keeping the same levels of energy that I started with. So each time I got logged off, I came back smiling and ready to work (although crying inside). I’d like to think that I managed it successfully.

When the webinar finally ended, sweat was pouring from every inch of my body. I got up, walked to my bed, lay down and did not move for an hour. And I cried. I pride myself on being a professional and what happened, for me wasn’t professional and wasn’t a great experience for my learners. I was so disappointed.

After the hour I got up. Because I had to. Trust me, if I could have stayed there all day I probably would have. But I had another webinar and so I needed to run tests to prevent the same thing from happening again, and put things in place in case it happened again. (It never happened again – so I have no idea what that was). When I came back to my desk, in the chat, were comments including:

“Thanks so much Dana! Always nice to have you!”
“You are so very inspiring”
“Love your coaching”

So was it really so bad? Maybe “Worst Webinar EVER” was a bit dramatic. What really resonated with me is that I talk so much about putting myself in the shoes of my learners, but I didn’t when it came to judging myself and my performance. Had I done that, I would have been much less critical of myself. The truth is we are always so much harder on ourselves than others are on us. It was a lesson for me to be kinder to myself.

Things happen all the time that are outside our control – and we can’t let those things get us down. What we do to keep going when things aren’t going our way, is what separates the ordinary from the extraordinary. And clients are people too. I think we sometimes underestimate the compassion and understanding others have towards us, and how much they appreciate our hard work – especially when things aren’t going the way they should.

So I encourage you to think about one thing you’re beating yourself up about – AND STOP. Let’s be kinder to ourselves this week.